Top Four Tips On How To House Train A Dog

How To House Train A Dog -- Top Tip #1

Your Dog Needs Your Full Attention


To paraphrase Taylor Swift, never, ever, ever leave a dog unattended before it's house trained.  Ever.  Sitting in the same room doing a crossword puzzle doesn't count (you, not the puppy.  If your dog is doing the crossword puzzle I'm assuming it already took care of housebreaking on its own... and might be trying to improve your toilet habits).   You need to be giving the puppy your undivided attention. 

It only takes a couple of unguarded seconds for a dog to relieve itself.  If that happens, it's you that failed, not the puppy.  Please keep that in mind.  If, you (or you and others) can't give your pet that kind of attention, then you will need to use a crate to house train your puppy-- which we cover on a different page.

I'm not saying you have to use crate training, and I'm not saying it's better or worse than any other method, but you have to decide based on a realistic expectation of what you're able to accomplish.

How To House Train A Dog -- Top Tip #2

Keep Feedings On A Schedule


A puppy has a very fast digestive tract and will want to defecate 5 to 30 minutes after eating.  If you allow the dog to eat whenever it wants during housebreaking, it will become very difficult for you to determine when it needs to poop.  Leaving food in your dog's bowl all day long isn't a good idea at any time, but it's an extra big no-no when you want to house train a puppy.

Feeding on schedule helps you predict the pooping pattern.  When you can successfully help your puppy get outside to do its business on a regular basis, you'll both enjoy the success and the dog will learn much faster.

How To House Train A Dog -- Top Tip #3

Positive Reinforcement


It's very important to reward success when potty training a puppy.  Remember to talk to the dog, in the language of the dog, about what matters to the dog.  Pleasing you matters to the dog so use an encouraging tone of voice when congratulating a perfect poop.  Pets also speak the language of food, so treats are an excellent way to make housebreaking quicker.

Consistency is critical when you house train a dog, and the rewards for success are just as critical.  Experts recommend rewarding your dog within three seconds of giving you the correct behavior (housebreaking, learning tricks, obedience, etc) so keep the treats with you (but out of sight) at all times.

Continue the reward process for quite awhile after you've had consistent success.  Then slowly reduce the number of times the dog gets a treat for going in the right spot, but always give verbal praise.

How To House Train A Dog -- Top Tip #4

Avoid Punishment


When you get frustrated -- which is easy to do when housebreaking -- it's a short jump to anger.  Understand before you start that your puppy will make mistakes.  Punishing the mistakes won't speed up the process and, in fact, will probably set it back quite a bit.

The old "rub their nose in it" punishment does not accomplish a thing -- except, perhaps, allowing you to vent some anger... and is that really fair to the dog?  When house training a dog, your pet doesn't fail, you do.  You fail to monitor the puppy... fail to learn the cues... fail to be consistent in your positive reinforcement.

In some cases, the dog may associate your displeasure with the act of defecating and will actually try to sneak off to poop to avoid upsetting you again.